Friday, December 2, 2011

Black Friday violence and human nature

Human nature is defined as those characteristics in the way we think, feel and act that come naturally.  Exactly what these characteristics are and what causes them and how they work in our every day life has been the study of Western philosophers for years.  They should have been around for the recent Black Friday sales, particularly at Walmart.  Police say a California woman used pepper spray in the process of making her purchase of a video game console.

Los Angeles firefighters treated the 15 that were hit by the spray but no one was sent to the hospital.  In the mêlée, the woman was able to pay for her purchases and leave the store.  Now what does that say about human nature?  This person obviously brought the pepper spray with her to shop, meaning it was a premeditated act of hostility toward her fellow human beings.  Screw the rest, I want my video game and am willing to go to whatever extent it takes to get it.

The reasoning is similar to the person that sees someone lying on the street in need of help and charts a wide path around them and just keeps going.  Other incidents occurred in South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, New York, Alabama and Connecticut with most happening at or near a Walmart store.  In 2008 a Walmart employee was trampled in New York as he and associates tried to unlock the doors at 5 AM.  Other occurrences nationwide included fights, even shootings.

Since the problem seems to be confined mostly to Walmart stores, you have to wonder if it is just outstanding discounts, or is it the shopper profile.  Walmart says its core shopper is lower-income minorities.  A Business Week study found that they are socially conservative, pro-gun and live in rural areas.  Jeff Gardere, a psychologist, blames it on retailers orchestrating sales that just ask for hard competitive behavior by desperate people in a bad economy.  “I think people are whipped into a frenzy, physically, psychologically," he said.

But then came the gun violence; remember the Walmart shopper is pro-gun.  One shooting in San Leandro, CA left someone hospitalized in a Walmart shopping lot.  In Myrtle Beach, SC 2 people had injuries from an apparent armed robbery.  In Kinston, NC a security officer had to use pepper spray to stop a disturbance at a Walmart store.  A man in a Florida Walmart was arrested for resisting arrest, and yet another Walmart in Rome, NY had a brawl break out sending 2 people to the hospital.

There are more, similar to the above occurring in or around Walmart stores.  So, in all fairness, add to the questions of whether this is all about hyped up sales or the Walmart customer profile the possibility that some or all of these effected stores were in bad locations.  Any way you look at it, though, Walmart seems to attract an undesirable element in its shoppers’ actions, at least on days featuring top discounts like Black Friday.

In closing, human nature is dedicated to the investigation of the person’s inner self considering biological, social and environmental factors that effect human behavior.  All of these factors are mutually interactive including our evolution, biology and sociological processes, according to editor, J. Lancaster from the book Human Nature.  But with all due respect, I cannot envision myself, or my family, or many of my friends doing anything like the violent events of this past Black Friday.

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